I read a good article from Melinda Fulmer titled The good, the bad and the incompetent 7 Signs that it’s time to dump your real-estate agengt (and how to tell if you have a good one)

After reading her article I figured it may be good to show you how to find the right agent to list your Apartment building.

If you are thinking of selling an Apartment building I think it is important to use someone who specializes in that product type. Just like if you have a 5 million dollar home in Rancho Santa Fe you wouldn’t list it with an agent who focuses on first time home buyers in San Diego.

Multi-Family investments take a much different approach to marketing the listing for sale than a residential property. In the report below I mention some (what I feel) good ways to find the right agent.

If you don’t want to end up with this agent then you need to…..

Learn how to choose a real estate agent that’s right for you?

Choosing the right agent can literally mean the difference between losing and gaining hundreds of thousands of dollars.  It’s that critical.  That’s why this report has been written – it’s to make sure you have the necessary understanding to make this decision.

In fact there are 5 main reasons why you should read this report:

1. To ensure your choice of an agent is the right one.
2. To reduce the element of risk associated with the decision you have to make.
3. To give you the confidence to strike up a strong and lasting relationship.
4. To understand the 5 fatal problems of real estate and how to avoid them.
5. To give you an idea of how agents charge for their services.

After reading this I hope to convey to you one thing – to be able to make a more informed decision on the choice of a real estate agent. It won’t guarantee the success of the relationship but it will give you the best possible chance of achieving your goals and objectives for your property…

What makes a successful partnership between the client and Realtor?

Before we go through the process of elimination to find the ideal Realtor for you, it’s important at this stage to highlight what makes a successful partnership between you the client and the agent. There are three outcomes that ensure any real estate relationship success:
1. The Realtor must provide useful information that is new to you.
2. The Realtor must successfully market your property to every potential buyer.
3. The Realtor must negotiate the best price for your property.
Few real estate agents agree to be held accountable for outcomes two and three – but this is what you should seek!

How do you make a short list of real estate agents?

The first thing you should do is identify six or seven real estate agents to contact. There are several ways you can do this:
1. Loopnet.com & other internet property search sites
Look under the for sale section. You’ll find numerous agents listed.
You then need to choose which ones to contact. Look out for these strong indicators:
Are there listings complete?

  • Are all the fields filled out correctly?
  • Are there multiple pictures?
  • Have they created a property website?
  • Is their a link to the executive summary?



Look at the marketing materials and see if they are informative and professionally designed and make you think, “If I was looking for property I would want to buy this one.”

Remember when buyers are looking at the different forms of marketing materials they are already interested in purchasing a property. This means that a company that advertises in a publication that other firms advertise in they must some how make sure that they are unique.
Do any of the marketing materials that you have seen “jump out” at you? If they do then you should add them to your list.
2. “Google” it…
Google is an amazing resource for finding information.  Search for real estate agents on the Internet.  If they are good at what they do they will be easy to find.  When you Google search for firms that specialize in your type of property in your submarket who pops up?  If you can find an agent through Google a buyer will be able to find them as well.

Making the initial contact

Once you’ve decided on the six or seven Realtors to contact you should call, email or write to each one and ask them to send you information about their company and why you should use their services.  Your objective here once you receive the information is to trim your list down to two or three companies with a view to setting up a meeting.
The letter below shows the type of information you should give to each Realtor. If you decide to call instead of putting pen to paper you should include the information contained in the letter in your conversation.





Real Estate Agent for “Your Property”
My name is ______________ and I am going to put my property on the market.  I am looking into several real estate firms to discover which one is right for me.

At this stage I would be grateful if you could send me details about your company, what services you offer, a sample marketing plan, your costs and how you think you could be of value to me.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly. Etc.

One of three things will then happen if you write to each company:

1. You will receive a call from the company wanting more information and an attempt to arrange a meeting with you.
2. You will receive the details you requested in the mail.
3. Neither of the above (yes some real estate companies will amazingly not respond to a letter inviting business)

With response (1) you should give the company the information they request but say that you don’t want to meet at this stage. The reason you want companies to respond is to be able to choose two or three companies from the responses to meet with.
Obviously if a company doesn’t respond don’t contact them again.
You should now have five or six companies to choose from. This is where the real process of elimination starts.

How to choose  2 or 3 Realtors to interview  from your list of 5 or 6

You will learn a great deal from the information you receive. This is what you need to look for to help you narrow the numbers down:
Remember you are looking for a real estate agent to help you market your property. How they market themselves will give you a good indication of their effectiveness. That’s why your initial stage in your selection of a Realtor took into account the way each one advertised their listings. The chances are that if they market there listings, well they are likely to do a good job for you.
Here’s what you should look for in the materials you receive:

The Cover Letter:
The cover letter at this stage is what’s important to you when narrowing down the number of agents you will meet with.
You should base your judgment of each agent purely on the strength of the cover letter. This may surprise you, however the cover letter is crucial in any sales situation – in fact it is by far the most important element when selling any business using mail. Many companies neglect this fact. Brochures and additional information serve only to “tell” the prospect about products and services. The cover letter “sells.” It should state why you should buy their services, what benefits you will receive, what proof they have, and what sets them apart from their competitors.
Don’t even look at the other materials at this stage. The cover letter should be powerful enough for you to make your decision. These are the important factors to look out for:
1. How long did it take to receive the information?
If you receive any response later then three working days after your letter you should dismiss the Agent immediately – unless they give a very good reason for not replying sooner. The earlier a company responds the more efficient, keen and organized they tend to be.
2. Have they sent their information (if any) with a cover letter?
If there’s no cover letter then right away strike them off your list. A sales style cover letter that attempts to “differentiate” (show why you should choose them instead of their competitors) is essential in any selling situation. Companies who fail to send cover letters (and it happens a lot) are nowhere near as effective as companies who do.
3. Have they correctly spelled your name and company details?
This is still a more common fault than you would think. If any details are spelled wrong it shows sloppiness.

4. Have they answered all your questions?
Being thorough, listening and responding to the customer’s needs is essential. If all your questions aren’t answered this shows poor business practice as well as an inability to meet the needs of the customer.
5. Do they talk about the benefits you will receive?
Benefits are what you are buying. This is what’s important to you. If a company tells you more about what they do rather than how you benefit from what they do you should think twice about meeting them.
6. Do they offer a guarantee?
Many real estate agents will never offer any guarantees with their work. Guarantees are a very powerful way of getting customers because a product or service that comes with a strong guarantee gives the buyer confidence and reassurance. You should always look to companies who guarantee their work. This shows
conviction and confidence in their work and shows that they are willing to put your interests and fears first.
7. Do they offer proof of their services with testimonials or case studies?
It’s all right saying how good you are, but you need proof and believability. Testimonials and case studies will give you the proof you need. If testimonials or case studies are not included think twice before meeting the company.
8. How persuasive is the letter?
If you feel that the contents of the letter are stimulating and you feel interested with what is written, then this is a good indication that this company should be seen.
By following the simple procedures outlined above you will have narrowed your list down to two or three agents to arrange a meeting with. You should never see more than three agents. It’s a waste of your time and each agent will be less enthusiastic if they know you are meeting a long line of people.

Arranging the Meetings

The next stage is to call or write to each company to tell them one of two things:
You would like to meet with them.
If you prefer to write ask them to call you to arrange an appointment. It is probably best to have the appointment at your property because it saves you time and you will feel more comfortable in your own surroundings.

One thing you should stress at this stage is that you want to see the specific person who will be working on your property should you decide to appoint them. This is very important because you need to get a good idea of the expertise this person has.
Sorry they’ve been unsuccessful.
It’s always courteous to inform a company that they’ve been unsuccessful. You should even mention why they have been unsuccessful.

Deciding on your objectives

Before you meet with the first real estate agent, you need to be clear in your own mind what your objectives are. Here are the three main selling objectives you may have:
1. To negotiate the best price for your property
This is the most frequent and important need for most people listing their property with a Realtor. You should see this as your ultimate objective. Any Realtor consultant worth their salt should be able to achieve this for you.
2. To save on miscellaneous fees
Your agent should be well prepared to answer every question you have about what kind of fees to expect to pay.
3. To make your transition as easy as possible
Selling your property is an important milestone.  Your real estate agent should be able to provide a smooth transition and make it as easy as possible on you and your family.
Now that you know exactly what you want the Realtor to achieve you are ready to compile your short list of questions that will help you decide on the real estate agent that’s right for you.

14 questions to ask to ensure you choose the right real estate agent

You should have a carefully selected a number of questions for the meeting. These questions will help you establish the most suitable agent. Every agent is different. Each will have a method for doing business with their clients. It’s very important that you find out the processes they use from the beginning of the relationship and onwards. Here are some examples of questions you need to ask:
1. How do they plan to market your property?
The saying “If you fail to plan you’re planning to fail” is so true. Planning is critical. You must be certain in your mind that the agent you choose sees planning as a very important stage in the process. What process do they use if any? Don’t rely on pure “creativity.” Sure creativity is important, but what you want is a process that is successful – with or without the agent!
2. What marketing tools do they use and how many?
Many agents will specialize in the “main” disciplines of marketing – advertising, direct mail, PR and marketing strategy. That’s fine but by doing so they and ultimately you will miss out on over another 95 marketing tools – many of which are free.
3. How involved are you expected to be?
Your commitment to the relationship is crucial. In most cases you will have to put time into the marketing of your property. Some agents will work quite happily with the minimal input from you. Others will want to work with you to ensure the whole marketing effort is working with you every step of the way.
Although time may be a problem, you should make sure you dedicate enough time to work with the agent. The more you learn the better.
4. What services do they offer?
Ask the agent to list the services they offer.

5. What is included in their service?Many agents just charge you commission for selling your property with no explanation on why they charge a particular fee.
6. How do they see their role as your real estate agent?
This question will tell you a lot about the agent. Many are happy to provide services to you without going the extra mile to find out how involved you want to be!  You want to find an agent that works for you.
7. Do they have different levels of service that they offer to clients?
Most agents will offer just one type of service. Some will offer different levels of service.  Options like this give you the opportunity to decide on the most appropriate relationship to suit your needs.
8. How often will you receive activity reports?
To accomplish your objectives how often will you need to see reports? Ask if they brought a sample activity report.
9. Do you have to commit to a contract?
That’s fine, but make sure you are happy with the terms. Ask what termination clauses you have and what length of contract they feel would be needed? What happens when the contract expires, are you limited in your ability to sell it yourself or hire another agent?
10. What do they think sets them apart from their competitors?
This is a great question. It separates the “wheat from the chaff.” Listen carefully to their answers. Look for specific answers not for the mundane things like “Because we offer value, quality and service over and above our competitors.” Replies like that are so generic. The agent who understands his customers will easily be able to tell you good reasons why you should do business with them.

11. Do they guarantee results?
If not – why not? Some agents (not many) will guarantee their work either by agreeing to meet certain parameters agreed by you and them or give you a risk free guarantee i.e. work for a month or longer and if you’re unhappy return your listing, fees, etc. A combination of both would be best for you.

12. Do they have the expertise in marketing your property type?
This is essential. If they are experienced in this area, they are more likely to know right away what works and what doesn’t.  Specialization is very important in any business.
What evidence do they have of their success as a real estate agent?
Testimonials, case studies and letters of appreciation, will give you a very clear indication of the type of agent you are dealing with. If the person you meet doesn’t have any of these with them then you can draw one of two conclusions:
1. They don’t have any – which would suggest that they aren’t as good as they say they are.
2. They have them but they haven’t brought any with them – which would suggest poor sales strategy (would you want a real estate marketer who has a poor sales strategy to do work for you?) or a lack of preparation.
Those that can show you testimonials are professional, highly organized and usually good agents.

13. What examples of work have they brought with them?
It’s always worth asking each agent to show you some of the work they’ve done.  An example might be a past marketing campaign for a recently sold property.

Finally…

In addition to the questions listed above you need to draw two conclusions about the agent during the meeting:
Is the agent a good listener?

This is very important. Run the other way from anyone who knows exactly what you need before hearing about your objectives.

And what I feel is absolutely one of the most important things. Do their ethics and philosophies match yours? Do you feel like you can trust them?


This is a partnership in a sense and you will be tied into a listing agreement with this person so make sure you feel comfortable. (but don’t be so afraid you never make ANY decision)
This is essential. To get the best results you must be sure that you are harmonious in these three areas.

Good Luck!

Curtis

About Curtis:

The author is the former President of the San Diego Commercial Realtors Association and served on the Board of Directors of the CCIM San Diego Chapter, has appeared on TLC’s Flip This House and was nominated for the Deal Maker of the Year Award in 2008.  Curtis’ passion for mentoring and sharing his learning is furthered through his personal Blog and membership on the Policy Advisory Board at the University of San Diego Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate.   Curtis is also the CEO of Gabhart Investments Inc., which is a privately held real estate firm specializing in acquiring, renovating and upgrading multi-family properties.  His firm provides expert services in Real Estate syndication’s,  property and asset management, acquisitions and depositions, zoning and entitlements, real estate development, construction management, venture funding and related financial analysis as well as sales training and property investment consulting.

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